Before her name became attached to the Valentine’s Day Shooting at the High School that proudly bears her name, Marjory Stoneman Douglas deserved not only the naming recognition but left a legacy so great that few, male or female, have matched.
She was I’m told a determined curmudgeon. Born in the 1890’s her tank didn’t run dry until more than a century had passed. During that century-plus, she became known for her work to keep the government and the developer’s hands off the Everglades. At every turn when she would lose, her efforts would redouble. Famous for her book, “The River of Grass,” she wrote a book that today we should be scratching our heads over and saying, “She had it right, that old broad, why didn’t we just listen?”
When I came to Florida she was still a fixture on radio, television and in the newspapers and news magazines. She started out as a suffragette and learned in those fights some indelible lessons that need to be passed along. One was you needed to get out there and have your voice heard. Grumbling over tea to one’s friends was a waste of time unless of course, that grumbling led to action. Signs and bullhorns, and getting in the way of traffic-all that frowned upon stuff in her day–was stuff that worked. So you pulled up your hoop skirt and stepped out smartly willing if necessary to end up in jail.
Another thing she learned was that there wasn’t “a system” but that there were “systems.” To win a battle one had to identify them and put pressure on each and every one to create a domino impact on others. This meant the county commissions, county water management districts, the state legislature, the United States government and its parts, including most assuredly the Army Corps of Engineers.
Would that we could study her lessons and use them to deal effectively with the problems of guns in America, but fate would not permit that, a fate that maybe Ms. Douglas would have licked her lips to be part of. I’m sure she couldn’t have just lay in peace, recognized with her name on dozens of things including a wonderful high school. Nope, that wonderful high school with her name on it has become a symbol of shame for this country but offers the potential resurrection of what she so believed in–citizen action.
For a few months, Ms.Douglas’ kids were setting the world on fire. They were everywhere. Each in his or her own way more wonderful than the last. They were born to her role. Then, were I a cynic, I would say the President of the United States was so tired of the heat that he roiled the world in so many crises that these youngsters, many also faced with graduation and leaving their community, seemed lost in the other sturm und drangs that have smothered their issue.
Yet no matter how much has been piled on it and them, there are signs of death, continued shootings, which portend life for the anti-gun activists. One is the internet, I hold in my hand something that says “Contract.” A simple piece of prose that needs not the Alan Deshowitz’ of the legal community. It is a promise from grandparents to “vote for legislative leaders to support our grandchildren’s safety over guns.” It has the grandchild’s name, the grandparents’ names and a date. Interested? Try #ParentsPromisetokids #PPTK, or #Safety OverGuns. parentspromisetokids.org.
Then too there is the continuing carnage. It continues to build and eventually will crawl back to visibility to be seen in the pile of snarky creations this administration has buried the gun issue under. Since Stoneman/Douglas there have been four school shootings with deaths. That’s just short of five months folks. This according to ABC News. The Chicago Tribune reports that over 187,500 American children have been threatened by gun violence since Columbine. You can be sure those numbers are understated not overblown.
Bottom Line: As headline after headline about Tariffs, and North Korea, a silly summit with Putin, and the most scandal-ridden administration in modern history pile high their debris over the gun issue do what Marjory Stoneman Douglas would have done. Dig! Holler! Meet with groups of families and children to urge them on. Meet with state and federal legislators and yes–give money. The most important thing you can do is keep the promise on this simple piece of paper–vote–at least from my perspective.
Bill Gralnick waxes far from poetic in his weekly column. For more of his prose check out his new website: http://www.atleastfrommyperspective.net. There you will find links to his two books, Mirth, Wind, and Ire and More Mirth, Wind, and Ire as well as a link to all his blogs. Read! It’s good for both of us.